I have asked this question already in my interview but never to someone who is creating realistic or figurative paintings. I will take my chance, is it easier to portray the world as it is or distorts them like abstract artists are doing?
I think the hardest thing to do is to combine the two, painting abstractly while conveying realism. In my view, full abstract or photo-realism are easier to do.
Can you share a glimpse at your process? How it is going from idea to a final piece?
For my traditional work I do lots of plein air sketches I then take the best ideas and make a larger painting out of it. Mostly when I’m out painting I’m just looking for good color and value relationships.
And well, how do you know that painting is finished? I am personally always struggling with this notion, is it ready or not, should I correct something or maybe leave it as it is and move on.
I feel like I’m finished when I have a satisfying focal point and the supporting areas of the canvas don’t compete with the focal point. (Notice I didn’t talk about adding more detail.)
In one of the interviews with you, I have read that you are influenced by gospel and faith is important to you. Can you tell more about it?
With the enormous challenges we face today, it’s easy to get angry and bitter and constantly express everything that’s wrong in the world. The spiritual aspects of my life have helped me to try a be a more grateful human and to seek out beauty in the world.
In a fast-paced world, faith definitely offers stability and it is giving the universal answers for some of the philosophical questions about life. What else do you seek in your faith in God?
I think a broad sense of purpose and optimism is a big part of it. Also, a sense of community plays an important role in my mental and emotional health.
What was your first exhibition? How it has happened that you have been featured?
The first exhibition I did was a one-man show back in 1999 before I want to grad school. I did a series of paintings of Bellagio in Italy. Most of the paintings sold in the exhibition and it was a huge confidence booster.
Let’s change a topic and discuss another part of your activities. For a start, what is the most important thing that formal education has given to you?
Connections with other creatives, exposure to new ideas, and the discipline to work at a professional level.
How does it feel to be on the other side of the desk, as a teacher?
I enjoy it as much as being a student. Feels as good to share your knowledge as it does to learn something new.
Can you share any advice about how to approach developing your style?
I think self-awareness is a huge part of it. There are so many directions to choose from these days and it can be as confusing for a young artist as well as a seasoned professional. Try and stick to two or three sources of inspiration and work on those for a year before going in a different direction. It takes a long time to master something and we don’t learn much if we are constantly jumping from one thing to another.
As a teacher, what advice would you give to any self-taught artist?
Today there are so many great options to learn art. Online learning or workshops are one of the better ways to go because it’s so affordable compared to going to a university.
I’ve read that you even had a chance to teach people at Pixar. For me, it is a legendary studio and people day are creating miracles.
Yes, there is some amazing talent there. I love the culture they have created. Everyone wants to level up.
In the Pixar’s DNA Steve Jobs has left his trail, I have read that you, as an entrepreneur, were too influenced by his approach to work.
Yes. He was a big influence on how and why I designed the STRADA Easel.
How do you overcome difficulties? At the moment you are recognised painter, lecturer and entrepreneur, however, I guess it wasn’t always like that, everybody has to start.
Yeah, I think the best thing to remember is it happens very gradually. It’s putting good goals and habits in place and making some daily sacrifices to become who you want to become.
I have read that when you were a child you have told your dad that you would like to be an artist. If you could choose a different occupation, what would it be?
I would probably be an entrepreneur of some sort. I just love talking about new ideas and making stuff.
If you would look at your artistic career in retrospective, is there something you regret or you would like to change?
I would have gone to a different school for my undergraduate degree. They taught an avant-garde style of art that I wasn’t very interested in.
You enjoy travelling and plein air painting. Lockdown and travel restrictions are probably har for you. How are you managing with this situation?
I’m finding that there are plenty of interesting things to paint much closer to home and I’m working on some large commissions right now so not being able to travel has helped me to be more focused.
What is your favourite color?
Hard to say because it is always in relationship to other colors but I tend to feel more comfortable painting in the cool blue spectrum. I think subtle color shifts are more exciting than explosive color.
I also like very much your sci-fi paintings hence I can stop to ask at the end: what is your favourite sci-fi movie?
Right now I would say Interstellar. Christopher Nolan is a genius and I love the musical score by Hanz Zimmer.